Living Stones Academy

Educating by atmosphere, discipline, and life

More thoughts on the Culture of Mother

on August 10, 2015

Lately, as I’ve been planning my upcoming school year, which involves reading blogs and listening to podcasts and of course reading books, I’ve been reflecting more and more on why Charlotte Mason’s teachings pull my heart. Why I’ve chosen this way of teaching my children over any other. Today I listened to a podcast from the CiRCE Institute in which they interviewed Sarah Mackenzie, talking about her book Teaching From Rest.  I remember reading about this book but I already have 2 on my shelf that I need to read (among others) and thought, “Well, that doesn’t sound much different from Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit, so I can skip it.” But a friend has been sharing quotes and I thought it sounded good. The podcast confirmed that. I’m looking forward to adding it to my library someday.

But as I sat on my back porch in the early morning cool, with my cup of coffee and overlarge headphones (I cannot do earbuds; I hate how they feel; so I’m sure I looked ridiculous with my normal sized headphones and my iPhone), I found I was being fed simply by the words of this homeschool mom. To digress a bit, one thing that does attract me to the CM way is the humility of the women who use it. I’ve encountered so much grace on the Ambleside Online forum. I hear so much honesty from bloggers like Brandy Vencel and now Sarah Mackenzie. I hear very little about making your children all 4.0 genius level students who master higher level mathematics and are in the top 10 of their class and score ridiculously well on the SAT’s. Instead I hear about love–for your children, for your husband, for learning, for life, for God. And how, like pursuing righteousness, when you focus on those things, all those others could happen, but they are never the goal.

More on that later; back to culture.

Mother culture is more than mom taking time for herself. Getting a pedicure, time out with friends, relaxation, playing games, watching TV, all of these aid mother. As Charlotte herself said, “If mothers could learn to do for themselves what they do for their children when these are overdone, we should have happier households. Let the mother go out to play!” But one doesn’t grow by play alone. As I said before, I don’t consider the culturing of mother to be the point, but the growing of mother. As mothers we need to be learning. Reading the Bible and doing studies. Reading classic literature. Listening to informative podcasts. Taking a class if we can. Feeding our souls and minds with those living ideas we are so interested in passing on to our children through a Charlotte Mason education. If our own souls are perishing from lack of food, how can we effectively help our children?

When you get on an airplane, the flight attendants (I almost wrote “stewardesses”, tells you how old I am) go through a spiel on safety, one of them being instructions on what to do in case of loss of cabin pressure. Oxygen masks fall from the ceiling. A parent’s first thought would be, “Give oxygen to my children”. But in fact they very specifically tell you to do something else: put your OWN mask on first, THEN help the helpless. Why? Because if you pass out, what good are you going to be to your children?

It’s easier to just turn my brain off and call that “taking care of myself”. While those times are necessary–we all need a brain dump once in a while–it’s more important to get oxygen to our starving souls. Too often we swing between two narcissistic-breeding tendencies–all about mommy, or all about the kids. There is a balance, and we must maintain it. Or we’ll all starve for lack of nourishment.

This morning I needed fresh air. Sitting in my living room with a podcast wasn’t enough. I needed the living, breathing, moving air of nature around me. I needed that coffee (do not mock, it’s a need). I needed the honest words of another homeschool parent who said, “My life isn’t always perfect.” I needed to be fed. And now I’m refreshed and quite possibly, I can feed my children today. It might not stay beautiful. But at least I gave it the right boost first thing in the morning.

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